Did Society's Violence Against Gays Kill
My mind is filled with thoughts of the thuggery and
terrible murder of Matthew Shepard.
Why did this happen? Was his death sparked by
the fascination people have with trying to change
and heal a gay or lesbian person? Shy spend energy
trying to determine whether one is born or becomes
Why not take time to understand and know us? We
are human beings. There is nothing inherently wrong
with us. What is wrong is what is done to us.
As a gay man myself, I wonder about why people
need to worry about why we need to come out.
How about worrying about what it would be like
for a straight person to have to hide the fact that
he or she is married, not being able to put a
picture of their partner on their desk and lie to
co-workers about what they did on the weekend or
keep the conversation generic?
Instead of sexualizing us and telling us that we
are all promiscuous, how about experiencing us and
getting to know our politics and spirituality? How
about seeing our family values - as good parents,
aunts and uncles - our psychology and the richness
of our culture? How about getting to know what
lives in our souls?
While growing up, I was continually called a
"faggot" in school by classmates and teachers.
Abandoned, spit upon and rejected by close friends
for identifying myself as or being seen as a gay
man was commonplace. Such behavior was acceptable.
Nothing was said to stop the violence.
I am horrified to think that people of other
minority groups, who have been discriminated
against themselves, preach that being gay or
lesbian is wrong and something unnatural. Not
Natural, a song by Debbie and Angie Winans stating
that homosexuality is "not natural," is appalling.
"Kike" was included in one of Michael Jackson's
songs and Jewish groups' outrage forced him to
delete the word. It saddens me that the same did
not happen to the Winans, even th9ugh the gay and
lesbian community attempted to get them to change
Our experience must count. It is time to
appreciate the truth about being gay or lesbian
from the voices who live and die with insult, hate
Too few laws protect us. We can be ejected from
our houses, be fired from our jobs, have our
children taken from us and be denied the right to
marry. Such atrocities happen because society seems
to suggest we are a group to scorn, despise, hate
Gays and lesbians breathe and bleed like other
humans do. We deserve compassion and empathy. The
parent, teacher, priest, rabbi, doctor, sister or
brother who is gay or lesbian should be
experienced, not judged.
Matthew Shepard never stood a chance. The
killers of this gentle should had their minds made
up about who he was. They believed they had the
support to torture and terrify a "queer."
When any man - be it Matthew or one's neighbor
has life extinguished, we are all diminished.
©2009 by Joe Kort
Joe Kort, MA, MSW, has been in practice since 1985.
He specializes in Gay Affirmative Psychotherapy as
well as IMAGO Relationship Therapy, which is a
specific program involving communication exercises
designed for couples to enhance their relationship
and for singles to learn relationship skills. He
also specializes in sexual addiction, childhood
sexual, physical and emotional abuse, depression
and anxiety. He offers workshops for couples and
singles. He runs a gay men's group therapy and a
men's sexuality group therapy for straight, bi and
gay men who are struggling with specific sexual
issues. His therapy services are for gays and
lesbians as well as heterosexuals. His articles and
columns have appeared in The Detroit Free
Press, Between the Lines Newspaper for
Gays and Lesbians, The Detroit News, The
Oakland Press, The Royal Oak Mirror, and
other publications. Besides providing therapy for
individuals and couples, he conducts a number of
groups and workshops for gay men. Now an adjunct
professor teaching Gay and Lesbian Studies at Wayne
State University's School of Social Work, he is
doing more writing and workshops on a national
level. He is the author of 10
Smart Things Gay Men can do to Improve Their
Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Find Real
(gay'.dahr, n.): (1) The
ability that lets gays and lesbians identify one
other. (2) This column--where non-gay readers can
improve their gaydar, learning more about gay men's
psychology and social lives. Also, (3) a regular
feature where gay readers can discover the many
questions and hassles their straight
counterparts--and themselves--must face!
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